Greg Jones has called on paddlers of all craft to enter the New Zealand Virtual Paddling Championships after on Friday becoming the first male waka paddler to log a time in the month-long competition.
The 52-year-old waka stalwart first become aware of the championships via Facebook and given the current postponement and cancellation of many waka events he jumped at the chance to become involved.
“Anything and everything at the moment is being cancelled which has left people high and dry,” explains Greg.
“So while there is nothing else going on at the moment, I thought why not enter? There is a competitive element to the event and it is great to be able to compare times with other craft.”
Greg, a builder from Whangarei, started down the Hatea River before heading out down the harbour on an out and back course, registering a time of 1:10:07 to place himself in provisional top spot in the men’s waka single division.
Putting in an average speed of 10.3kmph was a solid effort, although due in part to the conditions he fell a little shy of his target pace of 10.5kmph.
Building back up into full fitness after last year taking a lengthy break from paddling due to lockdown, Greg, who won a masters bronze in the team race at the 2017 World Waka Ama Long Distance Championships in Tahiti and has been paddling a waka for 29 years, said: “I will definitely have another go. Where I paddled was my regular training course and if I do get a quicker time, I’ll post it up on to the leaderboard.”
Greg, who also occasionally compete in surf ski, would encourage others from up and down the country and around the world to enter the event.
“Many people are training anyway there is no harm paddling 12km and posting a time,” explains Greg. “It is also good to see what everyone else is doing and to compare times between waka, K1 and skis and even get a comparison between freshwater and saltwater times.
“It also nice to be in a competition mixing with other craft. Often we can go to events and it is a “thou shall not mix attitude” between say ski paddlers and waka but it is nice to be in a competition where we can acknowledge all paddle craft.”